(4/2017) It’s spring, the time of year when we celebrate the promise of new life, with budding trees and blooming flowers. There are great things popping up all across Frederick County this spring. In the northern part of the county, we are building new parks, renovating a historic covered bridge, and constructing a larger library branch to serve a growing demand for these
This month, we will be holding a ribbon-cutting for the newly renovated Roddy Road Park and covered bridge. The park’s trails and parking lot are now paved with asphalt that allows rain to drain through to the ground. Upgrades include a new restroom, playground equipment, and sign and guardrail have been replaced. The neighboring covered bridge had to be rebuilt after an
oversized vehicle drove through it last June. Insurance and a court-ordered payment covered more than 90% of the cost to fix the damage. A new over-height warning system is in the process of being installed. While the bridge has been closed for repairs, crews also replaced corroding steel beams and rotting wood. Join us for the bridge dedication and park re-opening on Monday, April 17 at 3:00 pm.
Last month we broke ground on the long-awaited new library in Walkersville. The 15,000-square-foot facility will be almost six times as big as the current Walkersville branch, and is scheduled to open in January 2018. The library will include meeting rooms so community groups in the Woodsboro and Walkersville area can gather. It will feature an early childhood literacy and
learning play space funded through donations. Frederick County Public Libraries are very popular, with almost 100,000 residents visiting a library every month. Our libraries offer wonderful programs every day for people of all ages, as well as traditional books and other materials. Libraries truly build community.
We are planning for other major projects in the coming years, as well. The Capital Improvements Program Phase II of the Utica District Park. Construction will begin in August 2018 on three new fields, two of which will be synthetic turf. There will be shelters, trails, playgrounds and a restroom facility in the next section of the park, which should open in February 2020.
Frederick County is fortunate to have beautifully maintained parks that connect people to nature and the outdoors. County parks welcome about 2 million visitors annually, which is pretty incredible!
The capital budget also includes support for our public safety divisions. Fire & Rescue radios are at the end of their lifespan. New radios will improve communications between first responders both inside Frederick County and with other jurisdictions and public safety agencies. We are also planning for replacement fire trucks and ambulances, as well as for land to build a
new station west of U.S. Route 15. At the Sheriff’s Office’s request, the capital budget also includes a new surveillance van, enhanced security at the Law Enforcement Center, and design for a much-needed medical unit at the Adult Detention Center.
How are we going to fund all of these projects? Well, I am very excited to tell you that Frederick County is able to get the most bang for our buck thanks to our AAA bond rating. We learned in March that all three of the New York bond rating agencies had reaffirmed Frederick County’s AAA ratings. They are similar to a consumer’s credit score; the better our rating, the
lower the interest we are charged when we borrow money saving taxpayers millions of dollars over time. Lower interest rates allow us to do more for the same amount of money. The County’s ratings show that this administration is focused on saving taxpayers money and managing our budget responsibly. Our economy is growing, we are adding jobs, and we have a reputation for spending conservatively.
These ratings are proof that Charter is making us a stronger, more resilient county.
While the capital budget is largely in place, I am finalizing the operating budget during the upcoming week and will present it to the public on April 13. I can tell you that there will not be any increase in the County’s tax rate. I will ensure that the county lives within its means just like your household. Job growth is on a steady rise, and our economy is vibrant
generating more revenue for the county budget. Competing for money in the operating budget is the second year phase-in to the new teacher and school staff pay scale; requests in public safety for additional sheriff deputies, corrections officers, and 9-1-1 call takers to meet growing calls for service; and, requests for additional materials to maintain roads and parks, expanded branch library
hours and materials, animal control, and technology.
I do plan to support requests from the towns of Thurmont and Emmitsburg to partner on sidewalk projects and support the Thurmont Senior Center. I am pleased to have a great working relationship with municipal officials. Stay tuned for the announcement of Community Partnership Grants which will provided support for non-profit human service agencies operating and serving
people in north Frederick County.
This year, I am asking for your help and your opinions to shape the county budget. On the County’s website are two short surveys so you can tell me what you think should be priorities in next year’s budget. The surveys are both quick and easy – asking only one question each – and will help us to gather more input on what you, the residents of Frederick County, value most.
You can find the surveys at: www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/BudgetSurveys. They will remain open through April 3 and we will publish the results.
Another way to stay engaged and informed is to subscribe to a new monthly newsletter, Executive Summary. It features breaking news, the latest initiatives, upcoming events, and ongoing projects. To subscribe, go to www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/executive and click on Executive Summary. Stay up to date on all the great things happening in Frederick County!